Do-It-Yourself Taco Burgers

Two of Houston's best culinary traditions are taco trucks and burger joints. Houston food lovers like myself are often racked with indecision when choosing between the two for a quick lunch or dinner -- tacos or burgers? Which taco truck? Which burger joint?

On a recent lunch outing I came up with the perfect solution -- go to my favorite taco truck, pick up some tacos, then go to a burger joint and eat tacos and a burger together. Great idea. But then it hit me. Why eat them separately? The taco filling would make a great topping for a burger. It's a match made in heaven.

Putting the plan into action, I went to a favorite neighborhood taco truck, Tierra Caliente on Montrose near West Gray. I ordered my favorite, tacos de lengua. For non-taco truck aficionados, that's beef tongue tacos. It may sound strange but it's a standard menu item and very tasty.

I then headed to my favorite burger joint: Hubcap Grill downtown. I ordered a single-meat, plain, with cheese. The owner looked at me suspiciously but placed the order anyway. When the burger arrived I removed the bun and dumped the taco contents on to the beef patty. I added generous dollops of the red and green sauce that came with the tacos.

I reassembled the burger and took a bite. This taco burger was amazing. The coarse texture of the beef patty worked great with the finer texture of the tongue. The spicy cilantro and onions were the perfect toppings for the burger. The hot sauces added an incredible kick to the whole assemblage. A true culinary fusion.

As I assembled and ate the taco burger, Hubcap's owner eyed me intently. At any moment I thought he would kick me out for cheating him on the toppings. I imagined my next visit to Hubcap would be met with a sign on the door, "No outside food."

On the contrary, we struck up a conversation and he admitted to experimenting with similar ideas to the taco burger. He mentioned that he was testing a tamale burger and a frito pie burger. I handed over a business card and told him to call me if he needed a taste tester.

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J.C. Reid
Contact: J.C. Reid